An Israel Defense Forces unit entered the village of Ureif, near Nablus, in the middle of the night and proceeded to disturb residents by shouting through loudspeakers, honking jeep horns and firing flares.
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All this was captured on a homemade video by one of the villagers. The video reached the Yesh Din organization on Thursday. It shows a strange reality in which an army force acts with no apparent purpose, in a manner that greatly and needlessly disturbs local residents.
In the video, the troops arrive and then drive up and down making loud noises. One of the soldiers is heard calling “Good morning Ureif” in Arabic through loudspeakers, then yelling: “Get up, everybody wake up!” in Hebrew. Rising and falling sirens are then heard, as well as flares being fired.
The unit’s actions raise several questions. Even if it had arrived there to carry out a military action, such as arresting a wanted person, it is reasonable to assume that this would be done quietly, or at least not while disturbing the entire village.
The reason for the use of the public announcement system is also unclear. The military spokesman’s response indicated that the army also thought so. The commander of the force was reprimanded for misuse of the system and for contravening normal procedures.
It should be noted that at the time the video was taken, late in 2012, some unrest was developing in the West Bank. According to the security services, there were 69 cases of Molotov cocktails being thrown in November, as well as two cases of live fire at soldiers. Six roadside explosive devices were found as well.
This was a reduction compared to the preceding November, and should be seen in the context of Operation Pillar of Defense, which had just concluded, firing up the area. The unit’s actions are even stranger given this background, as they had the potential to exacerbate friction with the villagers. The village lies in an area known for tensions between villagers and settlers, with frequent torching of agricultural fields on both sides.
The army spokesman’s response noted that the army’s presence had been augmented in that area in recent months to lower the heat between the villagers and settlers from Yitzhar. He said, “In the course of such activity in December, one unit had inappropriately used public announcement systems, and its commander was reprimanded. The incident has been investigated so that it will not be repeated.”